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New Information Uncovered about Major Cow Milk Allergen
- Updated: August 27, 2014
Scientists have discovered that a major cow milk allergen is in fact an allergenic. Both children and adults have an allergy to milk but what makes the milk allergenic has remained a mystery until recently. The University of Vienna, the Messerli Research Institute at the Vetmeduni Vienna, and the Medical University of Vienna combined forces to find the answer.
What scientists found was that a particular protein in milk called beta-lactoglobulin, capable of initiating an allergy but only when iron is void. When iron is not present, the protein causes no harm. Using this information along with data taken from a study on birch pollen allergy, scientists were finally able to uderstand allergic reactions, which were then published in the PLOS One journal.
People should not confuse lactose intolerance with milk allergy, which are different although they both occur in the body. Someone with lactose intolerance is unable to properly digest lactose due to an enzyme called lactase being absent from the body. In comparison, milk allergy is far more dangerous but in this case, the immune system attacks with IgE, milk proteins own antibodies.
Current statistics show approximately 3% of children in European countries struggle with a genuine milk allergy and that children more than adults, are diagnosed with the disease. In these patients, so-called Th2 lymphocytes is formed and initiated. These lymphocytes play a key role in the production of IgE antibodies to milk proteins, which then triggers the milk allergy.
Common symptoms associated with a milk allergy include diarrhea, swelling mucous membranes and the mouth, diarrhea, itchy skin, and in more rare instances, allergic shock. People who are suspected of having some type of problem with milk and dairy products need to undergo precise testing whereby lactose intolerance versus milk allergy can be confirmed. Once diagnosed, proper diet is essential, which also reduces risk of malnutrition.
Now that the allergen associated with milk allergy has been identified and is better understood, scientist was to determine what causes iron load in milk proteins. The goal is to understand why milk proteins load to a greater or lesser degree when iron is present.